Pennsylvania Attorney General sues billionaire Sackler family, owners of Oxycontin maker
Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro is suing the family that owns Purdue Pharma, the manufacturer of Oxycontin — a powerful prescription opioid pain medication that proved to be a multi-billion cash cow.
Details of the lawsuit are sealed, but it alleges members of the Sackler family are “personally liable” for the opioid crisis because of their role in promoting Oxycontin, a brand-name version of oxycodone.
“The Sacklers’ mission to avoid accountability and transparency stops here,” Shapiro said in a statement. “The lawsuit I filed on behalf of all Pennsylvanians seeks to require this family of billionaires, who orchestrated opioids into as many doctor’s offices, pharmacies and medicine cabinets as possible, takes responsibility for the pain they caused.”
The lawsuit filed this week comes on the heels of a tentative settlement that would end lawsuits between Purdue and thousands of local and state governments.
Settlement details have yet to be finalized, but the Associated Press reports it will require the Sacklers to give up control of Purdue, with the Stamford, Conn.-based company paying about $12 billion over time for its role in the opioid crisis.
Shapiro was involved in negotiating that settlement on Pennsylvania’s behalf but chose to reject the deal rather than accept Purdue’s terms, according to his office.
Shapiro slammed the settlement on Twitter, calling it an “insultingly weak offer” that allows the Sacklers to “walk away billionaires.”
It allows them to walk away billionaires and admit no wrongdoing. I don't accept that.
— AG Josh Shapiro (@PAAttorneyGen) September 11, 2019
Shapiro isn’t the only attorney general to shun the proposed settlement. Attorneys general in Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey and Connecticut have refused to sign on, according to the New York Times.
This is Shapiro’s second Purdue-related lawsuit this year. In May, he sued Purdue for allegedly violating the Consumer Protection Law in its efforts to market Oxycontin in Pennsylvania.
That suit seeks $1,000 for every violation and $3,000 for violations involving patients 60 or older. It does not give an exact number of violations.
Oxycontin, which was once marketed as a nonaddictive alternative to morphine and other painkillers, is considered one of the driving causes of the opiate epidemic.
On average, 12 Pennsylvanians die each day from opioid overdoses, according to Shapiro’s office.
Jacob Tierney is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Jacob at 724-836-6646, [email protected] or via Twitter .